Tuesday, September 8, 2009

3: Noah

Genesis 8-11
As Genesis 8 starts we are not yet done with the Noah story (oh how I wish we were). Noah and all of the animals float on the water for 5 months. Not only are they not sleeping because they have to tend to a pair of animals every 7 seconds, but they are surely starving and dying of thirst because they didn't have room for food and water to start with. For another approximately 2 months they sit on the top of mount Ararat, presumably still starving. Noah then spends another two months sending out doves and other birds to figure out if the ground was dry. Finally, over a year after they all piled into the ark, God tells them that they can come out. Now, I don't have the time to figure out how much, and what kind of food 98,000 pairs of animals need for an entire year, but I would imagine the amount would be staggering. These animals have a 2.5x2.5x2.5 foot container to start with. This size container would only hold about 117 gallons of fresh water, I would imagine that most of the animals would drink more water than could even be held in their cage in a year. And we still haven't included food. This story is not feasible by any stretch of the imagination.

Noah then builds an alter and sacrifices burnt offerings to God. When God smells the aroma he vows never to kill everyone again. Maybe Noah could have burned come incense before God killed everyone on earth?

God, apparently not learning his lesson, tells Noah to be fruitful and multiply, and for the first time gives us permission to eat animals. I guess Abel could kill some of his flock and show them to God, he just couldn't eat them afterward. God then reiterates that he's not going to kill us all again. He says that whenever he makes a rainbow appear that he will remember his promise not to kill everyone. What? I haven't seen a rainbow in a long time, I hope that little promise hasn't slipped his mind (again, he is revealing his lack of omniscience).

Genesis 9 is finished with a strange story of Noah getting wasted (drunk) and falling asleep naked. Why was he walking around naked? Noah must party hard. Anyway, Ham sees his father naked and tells his brothers, and they decide to cover him up. The brothers walk into the tent backwards so there is no chance of them seeing their father naked (cause that would be the end of the world). We haven't even gotten to the strange part yet. Noah wakes up and finds that he is covered. Now I would assume that Noah would be happy that someone covered him up, apparently not. He somehow knows Ham must be the culprit and exclaims "Cursed be Canaan [Ham's son]! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers." Noah makes Ham's son a slave because Ham was trying to be a nice guy? Let's review. Noah got drunk and passed out naked, his son suggests they cover him up, Noah curses his grandson to be a slave. I guess Noah was kind of a jerk.

Genesis 10 is largely genealogy. All is not lost though, there is the story of the mighty warrior Nimrod (I couldn't make this up if I tried). It is Genesis 10:8 if you need a laugh.

Genesis 11, the story of the Tower of Babel. I should just stop saying this, but this is very strange. People get together and invent bricks and begin building a tower "to the heavens". God, seeing this, says to himself "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." Well that is certainly worth a rereading. God says, about the power of humans, that nothing they do will be impossible if they are united. Is he scared? Apparently so scared that he needs to confuse us and sew discord. Is God going to come down and undermine Google translator? If we, as one people, come together and put aside our differences, is God saying that we could usurp his power?

I leave you with this today, the word of God "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible...".


  1. Noah parties like I do. :-D

  2. On the species problem. First, I think it reasonable to assume that Noah would have only taken vertibrates on the ark, because invertebrates tend to be there anyway (insects, worms, etc.) According to Wikipedia (the quickest source I could access) there are only 60,000 vertibrate species. Also from Wikipedia, 29,300 of these are fish, which probably could have survived a flood. And birds probably don't need cages, they just flew around, perching and nesting wherever. Of the about 20,000 species left, 14440 are reptiles and amphibians, which need far less than the given 2.5x2.5x2.5 to survive, and live off insects, which Noah didn't have to provide. I will reply more later. God bless. ~Seth Trey

  3. "Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive."... Every kind of creature that moves along the ground, and it says that Noah does "just as God commanded him". I'm afraid this doesn't leave it open to your interpretation of "only vertebrates". It also says that Noah is supposed to fit every kind of food on the ark, and I have not even begun to include that (a year's worth of food at that).

    "Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth."... They entered into the ark, it doesn't say they "perched atop the ark".

  4. lol its funny reading believers try to justify the text by warping and changeing it to say something completely different!

    Aha, then i Hope we do all speak the same language so we'll be able to do anything. I'd like to see god do that trick a second time XD

  5. I've just been pointed at your blog by a Christian reader -- I'm also blogging the bible from an atheist perspective, so it'd be very interesting to compare notes! I'll work through your posts chronologically over the next few days.

    Just on the Noah and sons story -- in 9:22 it says Ham saw the nakedness of his father. To uncover the nakedness of someone is generally a euphemism for forbidden sexual acts (see the prohibitions of incest later), so the understanding is that he had sex with his father (or castrated him).

    Of course this still doesn't explain cursing Ham's son...

  6. Interesting observations here, but nothing to actually say in response.
    Since as part of your premise you don't accept omniscience of god, there isn't anything to debate about it, and it isn't worth spending time dwelling on it.
    Simple point - as the bible was specifically geared toward human consumption, it is entirely reasonable and appropriate to utilize language that is understandable to the audiance. The concept of god "walking," "talking," "remembering," and "feeling" is simply metaphor to convey the actions in a manner understandable to us. It might sound funny, especially now, but mocking it isn't really justified.

    Another point - the bible portrays people as people, not as paragons. So, yes, Noah could have been a jerk (though, actually, the understanding is that Ham castrated and then mocked his father to his brothers).

    Oh and the philological "nimrod" comes directly from this biblical source. So, yeah, that isn't really that humorous. It's like thinking that the name Sisyphus or Tantalus is funny because of what their english counterparts mean.

    Re: the tower of Babel - the problem was that god gave them the opportunity for a unified culture with unlimited potential, and they use it to wage war against divinity. Basically, this is a poignant attack on the concept of an earthly utopia - that man, when he has no problems, worries, or troubles, deliberately goes looking for them. I don't think of this as funny or as a "threat" to god, but rather a threat to man's personal development. Imagine if, as a culture, we all just decided to devote all our scientific progress towards waging war. While there will be auxilliary breakthroughs, society as a whole would be destroyed through this single-mindedness.

    Interestingly enough, there is an archeological site in Iraq (I believe it's the Ziggurat of Ur) that seems to match the description of the Tower of Babel.

    All in all, I agree with the takeaway - the power of man, united, is unlimited.



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